I read and reviewed Blaze Ignites a year or so ago, because Jenny and I had worked together in a critique group and I was itching to find out what the...moreI read and reviewed Blaze Ignites a year or so ago, because Jenny and I had worked together in a critique group and I was itching to find out what the finished product was like. When Jenny offered me a review copy of Ursa Unearthed, the second novel in her Scourge Survivor Series, I again jumped at the chance. I love to see my writer friends grow and mature in their craft. I’m happy to say I lurved Ursa Unearthed. Jenny writes in a bare (dare I say, naked) style. Not a word is wasted. Action and hot sex propel the reader through the book. I actually finished reading it the week before last. At my reading rate, I burned through it. My critical eye caught a few, very minor, editing gaffes, but by and large, my only critical comment on the story itself is that Mika’s “lie,” the thing that prevents her from committing to Bruin until things become so dire she has no choice, is not well developed at the outset. I occasionally found myself irritated with Jenny’s protagonist for her failure to get over her bad self, spank that inner moppet, put on her big girl panties, and deal. Developing her trauma would have given this reader something to hang that irritation on. There would be a reason beyond being transported into a world of magic and danger to prevent her from accepting her altered circumstances. Given that Mika is Native North American, has a spiritual connection with the Earth Mother, which grants her supernatural insights, and her main support, her grandfather, accompanies her to Haven, Mika shouldn’t have been so resistant. Having said that, I think Ursa Unearthed is a fabulous book. The characters are otherwise well-drawn and Jenny has a knack for making you care about them. And yes, you read that correctly earlier, there is lots of hot sex in the novel and Jenny writes this well, too. You’ll tingle in all the right places ;) The story is largely standalone, but readers of Blaze Ignites will recognize many familiar faces in the cast. They don’t detract from Mika and Bruin’s character arcs, though. The spotlight remains where it should, on Mika and her bear. (less)
I’ve been reading writing craft books for years. In fact, one could say that I’m a writing craft book junkie. Yes, the support group will be starting...moreI’ve been reading writing craft books for years. In fact, one could say that I’m a writing craft book junkie. Yes, the support group will be starting shortly.
My approach in reading these books is to adopt those parts of the writer’s process that make sense to me and my ever-evolving process. I cherry pick, experiment, and incorporate as appropriate.
I would characterize Roz’s approach as organic, that is, her plotting activities arise naturally from the journaling, research, and gestation that most writers will normally engage in as a preparation to actual writing.
Her version of plotting will appeal to the avid pantser and her “gamification,” albeit non-technological, of structuring and plot-fixing activities will motivate even the most spreadsheet-phobic of writers. Having said that, plotting-oriented, or technophile writers will also find lots of tips and tricks to adapt for their use.
The techniques in Nail Your Novel can be used not only from the inception of your novel, but the writer can also engage in the process at later stages of novel writing. Having entered into Roz’s methodology with already drafted novels, I’m working through her beat sheet activity, adapting it to my own use as I prepare for future revision.
Roz even has activities to prepare the writer for querying or self-publication, whichever path the author chooses to pursue.
I’ve also felt validated in several instances as bits and pieces of my existing process appear in slightly different forms throughout Nail Your Novel.
For all the excellent content, Nail Your Novel is also a relatively quick read, well-organized, and easy to understand. Roz gets right to the heart of the matter and encourages reading writers to get their hands dirty, metaphorically speaking.
Her writing style embodies what she asks writers to strive for: clear, informative, and entertaining. Roz doesn’t waste a word.
Roz’s book receives my highest recommendation. It’s on my virtual writer’s shelf beside Ursula K. LeGuin’s, Jane Yolen’s, Donald Maass’s, and K.M. Weiland’s craft writing books and I’m sure I’ll be referring to it often.(less)
Welcome to the Lost Lands of Harkaway Hall, intrepid guests! The Lost Lands is one of the last nature conservancies in the world. See life forms in th...moreWelcome to the Lost Lands of Harkaway Hall, intrepid guests! The Lost Lands is one of the last nature conservancies in the world. See life forms in their natural habitats. Like them, even name them if you wish. Our helpful bods will sing and dance for you when they’re not keeping the Lost Lands in pristine condition. Want a rainbow? Our bods will make it happen. Roz Morris has created a wonderful fable with Lifeform Three. The protagonist is one of the aforementioned bods, or robots, but there’s something different about him. While the other bods desire nothing more than to redo, or clean, racking up scores as if poovering (vacuuming animal waste from the lawns) was a video game, Paftoo has other likes, ones that he must keep secret. Paftoo (all the redo bods are paf-number, and while it’s never stated in the novel, paf could be an initialism standing for personal automation form or something similar), does not shut down at night like the other redo bods. He dreams. He also has memories that fight their way back into Paftoo’s consciousness despite sharing. Sharing is a form of bod maintenance and the other bods crave it like a drug while Paftoo fears sharing will rob him of what he holds most dear: his memories of riding a life form three, a horse, his horse, Storm. Morris asks questions with her tale: what makes us different, unique? Does being unique mean that we can never truly be part of a community? What happens when our uniqueness is threatened? What happens if our memories are taken from us? Can enforced conformity change who we are? There are other issues woven through the tapestry, as well: what happens if humanity’s waste of natural resources continues unchecked? What if nature becomes a commodity, a property to be bought and sold, tailored to the tastes of its users? It is said that history is written by the victors of battle, but what if those victors are corporate heads, rewriting history continually based on what will sell best? Lifeform Three is a tasty novel, reminiscent (for me) of the works of Ursula K. le Guin, or Sherri S. Tepper. My highest recommendation. (less)
The novel opens in medias res, and the reader experiences first hand the dangerous world into which Riley has been born.
Her family’s farm is under att...moreThe novel opens in medias res, and the reader experiences first hand the dangerous world into which Riley has been born.
Her family’s farm is under attack and Riley must hide away in a storm cellar to avoid capture. The men responsible for the attack are armed and outnumber the farm’s defenders. If they get their hands on any of the women who could give birth to a healthy child, they’ll be sold to the Breeders.
Riley doesn’t really know who the Breeders are or what they’re capable of, but she believes the stories of her mother and auntie, and lives in constant fear for her safety and liberty.
A series of unfortunate events leads to the death of her step-father, Arn, who protected the family from the ravages of desperate men.
French keeps the pacing fast and the action fresh, rarely letting up on the throttle. The sense of danger established in the opening scene never lets up, even after the denouement, preparing the reader for the sequel.
The romantic subplot is deftly handled and the author offers some refreshing twists that pit Riley’s conflicting needs against one another.
The only dissatisfying bit was one character’s changing allegiance. While French is careful to plant the seeds of dissention in the good doctor’s speech and actions, the indications that he disagrees with his rich and powerful employer aren’t enough to make his sudden departure and support of Riley convincing.
His weasel-like behaviour only makes me think that he will betray Riley, and I found myself disappointed that Riley didn’t give any indication she sees it coming.
The Breeders is an excellent first novel and I’ve already purchased French’s second book, The Believers.
This YA dystopian paints a picture of scientific advancement gone wrong and its unexpected consequences. In a future in which boy babies far outnumber the girls, a working uterus becomes a treasure beyond value and a commodity worth killing for.
The “haves” are those that control the breeding program. Everyone else is a “have not” living in a wild-west world of testosterone-fuelled posturing and perpetual gang wars where women and children become both the ultimate victims and the ultimate heroes.(less)